By Dare Esan In Beijing:
Sprinter Gloria Asumnu has pointed accusing fingers at the Athletic Federation of Nigeria for the women’s 4x100m relay team’s exit from the Beijing 2015 IAAF World Championships at the semi-final stage.
Asumnu ran the first leg for the team that also had Deborah Odeyemi, Stepahnie Kalu and Lagos girl, Cecilia Francis.
The team ran 43.89 seconds to place eighth. It is the second worst time ever returned by a Nigerian 400m relay team in the history of the championships.
Only the 1987 team in Rome, Italy comprising Beatrice Utondu, Tina Iheagwna (world junior 100m champion a year earlier), Mary Onyali and Falilat Ogunkoya (world junior 200m champion in 1986) had performed below (43.95) what was on display here in Beijing.
“I am not disappointed we couldn’t scale through because this is what you get when you don’t prepare,” an almost crying Asumnu told completesportsnigeria.com.
“Coming into this championships, the only question we didn’t get an answer to is: what do we do if or when Blessing (Okagbare) decides not to run.
“The head coach (Gabriel Okon) did not have an answer for us until this morning (race day) at the warm-up track. He told us Blessing is not available for selection. Now what do we do.
“This kind of disrupted our rhythm. The initial arrangement based on our trainings with the few times Blessing trained with us was for me to hand over to Deborah (Odeyemi) who will also hand over to Stepahnie (Kalu). But the whole arrangement changed on race day. Stepahnie was brought to the back straight (second leg) while Deborah is to now run the third leg. We never practised this in training until on race day.
“Again, Cecilia didn’t know she was running until this morning (race morning).You can’t win or hope to perform well with this kind of arrangement,” blasted Asumnu who was now close to tears.
Complete Sports had earlier scooped that the coaches wanted to sacrifice Francis for 400m open semi-finalist, Patience Okon-George, who competed and led the 4x400m relay team to the final barely an hour earlier.
Okon-George, who was in the 4x100m relay team disqualified two years ago in Moscow, Russia, at the championships’ 14th edition, refused to be dragged into the race, complaining of fatigue.
Asumnu is not happy with the way the AFN has gone about the whole arrangement and wants a change.
“The federation should always be prepared.Put people in charge who know what they are doing. Up till the (national) trials in Warri (Maurice) Green (the former world and Olympic 100, 200m and 4x100m champion) has been our coach.
“But when we got here, we found out he is not. The team bonding and chemistry we had under him was destroyed. Everyday what we have been having here is confusion. This is not how to prepare for a world championships. This is embarassing,” fumed Asumnu who exclusively revealed she would not be at next month’s All Africa Games in Congo.
“This has been like an off year for me and I feel the best thing to do now is to shut down my season. I want to go home and get prepared for next year which is an Olympic year. I can also think about the World Indoors next year in Portland,USA.
“I thought I would end my season with the All Africa Games but right now I’m not going,”she said.
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